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A Marine remembers Sept. 11

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 21:21


The sun was shining that fateful morning.

Jamaar Nathan recalls waking up at his usual time of around 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. He saw a building in New York City on fire as he turned on the television. Confused, he then saw another plane crash into the World Trade Center. He knew then that it was an attack on the United States of America. 

Nathan was only 19 years old then, and working as a teacher’s aide while serving as a Marine reservist at the Marine Corps Headquarters and Service 8th Tank Battalion 4th Division in Rochester, New York, a unit with over 180 Marines. The call came immediately for Marines in the unit to volunteer to go to ground zero in Manhattan to help in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Nathan could not go as it conflicted with his day job, but he knew it was a matter of time before it would be his turn to serve his country. 

“I wished I went down to the World Trade Center, but I knew I would be called up,” Nathan said.

The war on terrorism would change the U.S. military forever. It is a war in which reservists and the National Guard were treated as full-time soldiers. The U.S. military was stretched thin in the years after Sept. 11, with deployments common for reservist citizen soldiers. 

It was a busy time at the Reserve Center. Nathan, then a lance corporal, drilled on the weekends preparing for his turn. During one weekend, lawyers from the area arrived to draft wills for the Marines. Nathan signed his last will and testament, preparing to die for our country.

Every month, Marines in his unit would be called to duty, mostly to Iraq. Nathan’s time came in 2005 when he was deployed to Djibouti in East Africa. He was 23 years old and had never been out of the country. Though he had been drilling and preparing as a reservist, Nathan was nervous and a bit scared.  

For reservists, being called to active duty meant giving up their jobs and other opportunities.

SEE MORE: Veteran suicide prevention project helps recognize signs of trouble

When he arrived at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Nathan sensed it was short staffed. It was all hands on deck for military service members around the world who rotated locations to fill in where needed.  Camp Lemonnier is a United States Naval Expeditionary Base and is the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. 

Nathan's job was to provide security for the region. The Marines were welcomed by the locals, who expressed their gratitude with smiles, he recalled.

 “I was proud to be a Marine at that time,” he said. “I felt patriotic being able to help my country.” 

Nathan’s tour of duty was for six months, a time he will never forget. Now 41 and a hospital payment representative, he recalls Sept. 11 vividly. 

“I still get emotional thinking about that day — pictures of the children who died,” he said.

As it has been 22 years, what happened on that fateful day moves farther to a page in history. Nathan’s message to young people is to study that history. He remembers the spirit of unity after Sept. 11, when America was one, united as Americans. 

“I hope people remember it,” Nathan said.             

America Forward: A franchise focused on solutions

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 20:57


Introducing America Forward: A franchise focused on solutions to our complex challenges.

Whenever I tell someone's story, I get absorbed.

In this job, I get to travel the country and take in the scenery. But what sticks are the people: Entering their homes, seeing pictures of their kids, learning their challenges, and witnessing what they're doing about it.

That's the heart behind our new series, America Forward.

There are complex challenges facing our communities, cities, and our country. We'll introduce you to the people trying to solve them. Some work in office buildings, while others work from home. They're all trying to do something.

This isn't a coat of rose-colored paint over difficult issues. This is a look at solutions and the people putting them in action. We will be absorbed, and we think you will be too, in the stories of the people moving America forward.

Trump adviser Peter Navarro convicted of contempt over Jan. 6 subpoena

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 20:45


Trump White House official Peter Navarro was convicted Thursday of contempt of Congress charges filed after he was accused of refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The verdict came after a short trial for Navarro, who served as a White House trade adviser under President Donald Trump and later promoted the Republican's baseless claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election he lost.

Navarro was the second Trump aide to face contempt of Congress charges after former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon was convicted of two counts and was sentenced to four months behind bars, though he has been free pending appeal.

Prosecutors said Navarro acted as if he were "above the law" when he defied a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House Jan. 6 committee. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress, both punishable by up to a year behind bars.

A defense attorney argued Navarro didn't ignore the congressional subpoena but instead told committee staffers to contact Trump about what material might be covered by executive privilege, something they did not do.

SEE MORE: Kamala Harris says Trump can't be spared accountability for Jan. 6

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled Navarro's executive privilege argument wasn't a defense against the charges, finding that Navarro hadn't shown evidence Trump invoked it.

Prosecutors said that much of the material the committee sought was already publicly available and that Navarro should have handed over what he could and flagged any questions or documents believed to be protected under executive privilege.

Trump faces a federal indictment in Washington, D.C., and a state indictment in Georgia over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden, a Democrat. He has denied wrongdoing and has said he was acting within the law.

The House Jan. 6 committee finished its work in January, after a final report that said Trump criminally engaged in a "multi-part conspiracy" to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election and failed to act to stop a mob of his supporters from attacking the Capitol.

Pennsylvania escaped murderer continues to elude authorities

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 20:34


A convicted murder who escaped from Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania on Aug. 31 is still on the run. 

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said someone reported seeing Danilo Souza Cavalcante near Longwood Gardens around noon.

Bivens stated that authorities are searching the area with drones, helicopters and officers on horseback. Police have an 8-10 mile perimeter, but they note that the area is wooded, making the search more difficult. 

SEE MORE: Pennsylvania murderer escaped by climbing up wall and over razor wire

Authorities released video on Wednesday showing how Cavalcante escaped from the prison. The video shows him scaling a wall, essentially crab walking — with his hands on one wall and his feet against another. After getting over the wall, police said Cavalcante climbed over a razor fence. 

Cavalcante was at the Chester County Prison awaiting to be transferred to a state prison, where he was due to serve out a life sentence for killing his ex-girlfriend in 2021. 

He reportedly killed the woman so she wouldn't tell police he was wanted in Brazil for a 2017 killing.

Due to his violent past, police are cautioning people about approaching Cavalcante. They should instead call 911 if they see him. Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Cavalcante's arrest. 

Information that leads to the capture of Danelo Cavalcante now has a total reward value of $20,000. Call 911 with information or report a tip to PA Crime Stoppers:

— PA State Police (@PAStatePolice) September 7, 2023

Veteran suicide prevention project helps recognize signs of trouble

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 19:51


For some military veterans, life after the service brings its own challenges. It's estimated that nearly 17 veterans die by suicide every day. That's almost twice the national average for non-veterans. So for National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the VA has launched a new focus on the issue. In one public service announcement, a veteran can be seen asking, "Have I ever asked for help myself?"

More than 6,000 veterans died by suicide in 2020, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Officials say those deaths are preventable, and so the VA is launching a new mental health campaign to reach veterans and their families before moments of crisis.

The PSA says, "When you realize that you're not alone, once you take that first step, there's so much support."

Denis McDonough, the secretary of Veterans Affairs under the Biden administration explains: "The PSA, this advertising, does a very good job of demonstrating what we know is true — which is our veterans are warriors and those warriors are trained to look out for their unit, to look out for their battle buddies. But as much as they support everybody else, too often they're reluctant to ask for help."

SEE MORE: 3M will pay $6 billion to settle military lawsuits over its earplugs

Appearing on Morning Rush, McDonough talked with Scripps News about the new online resources to help veterans with feelings of depression, isolation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health concerns. 

"What we're saying to veterans and their family members is: 'Don't wait for a crisis. Reach out now,'" said McDonough.  

For non-veterans, family members, caregivers and friends the website also includes resources on recognizing warning signs like agitation, isolation, sleeplessness, hopelessness or comments about suicide. 

And because starting conversations about mental health can be difficult, the online toolkits also offer tips on how to listen to vets without judgment, avoid arguments and stay positive about recovery. 

Above all else, experts recommend that veterans and loved ones recognize the issue early. 

"Let's take some steps now so that we're ready for those inevitable crises," said McDonough.

Veterans — and anyone else who wants to help check in on the vets in their life — can go to for these important tools on how to prepare for mental health emergencies. Veterans can also contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 for crisis intervention and support 24 hours a day. 

The VA reports that in 2020, suicide rates were highest among veterans age 18 to 34, and men were more likely to take their own lives than women. But 2020 also had the lowest number of veteran suicides since 2006, and experts hope the growing availability of mental health resources can continue the overall suicide prevention mission. 

Coach who won Supreme Court case about praying on field has resigned

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 19:27


A high school football coach in Washington state who won his job back after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he could pray on the field resigned Wednesday after just one game back.

Bremerton High School Assistant Coach Joe Kennedy made the announcement on his website, citing several reasons, including that he needed to care for an ailing family member out of state. He had been living full-time in Florida, and before the first game last Friday he said he didn’t know if he’d continue coaching.

“I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system so that is what I will do,” Kennedy wrote. “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case.”

Kennedy was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. His publicist, Jennifer Willingham, told The Associated Press he was on a plane back to Florida.

In a statement, the Bremerton School District confirmed Kennedy had submitted his resignation. School officials declined to comment on his exit, calling it a personnel matter.

SEE MORE: Coach fired for praying on the field wins Supreme Court case

Kennedy lost his job in 2015 and waged a seven-year legal battle to get it back.

School district officials had asked him to keep any on-field praying non-demonstrative or apart from students, saying they were concerned that tolerating his public post-game prayers would suggest government endorsement of religion, in violation of the separation of church and state.

He insisted on praying publicly at midfield after games, and the district placed him on leave and declined to renew his contract.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority sided with him, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing that “the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit organization that represented the school district in the case, argued that the Supreme Court should have dismissed the case as moot, as Kennedy no longer lived in Bremerton and had failed to notify the court of his 3,000-mile (4,800-kilometer) move to Florida.

“That Kennedy doesn’t want to coach at Bremerton School District isn’t a surprise,” said Rachel Laser, the group's chief executive. “It’s just one more example of why the Supreme Court should not have taken this case in the first place.”

SEE MORE: Bill requiring Ten Commandments in Texas schools fails

Kennedy was back on the sideline for the first time in nearly eight years last Friday night, but he said beforehand that he had mixed feelings about it and wasn't sure he'd keep coaching.

“Knowing that everybody’s expecting me to go do this kind of gives me a lot of angst in my stomach,” Kennedy told the AP. “People are going to freak out that I’m bringing God back into public schools.”

After the game — a 27-12 win over visiting Mount Douglas Secondary School — Kennedy strode alone to midfield, then knelt and prayed for about 10 seconds.

Kennedy was not joined by any athletes or others on the nearly empty field. There was scattered applause from the modest crowd.

Kennedy’s fight to get his job became a cultural touchstone, pitting the religious liberties of government employees against long-standing principles protecting students from religious coercion. He appeared at a 2016 rally for Donald Trump.

He and his wife recently had dinner with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential hopeful who asked for his help on the campaign trail. Kennedy declined, saying he's loyal to Trump.

Dog food recalled due to salmonella contamination

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 19:01


A pet food manufacturer is issuing a recall for one of its premium dog food brands due to potential salmonella contamination.

Mid America Pet Food has initiated a voluntary recall of a single batch of Victor Super Premium Dog Food Hi-Pro Plus formula due to a positive salmonella test in a random sample conducted by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the affected product, sold only in 5-pound bags, was distributed to various retailers in the U.S., and it consists of 644 cases labeled with a lot code located on the back of the bag reading "1000016385" and a "Best By Date" of 4/30/2024.

The FDA says that while no human or pet illnesses have been reported so far, if your dog exhibits symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea (potentially bloody), fever, vomiting, reduced appetite, or abdominal pain, it's advisable to consult your veterinarian.

If you have purchased this item, the FDA suggests to "destroy the food in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access."

Furthermore, the FDA says to wash and sanitize the pet bowls or containers that may have had contact with the food. 

Retailers are to remove the food from their shelves and destroy it. 

SEE MORE: USDA warns frozen chicken strips could contain chunks of plastic

'That '70s Show' actor Danny Masterson gets 30 years to life in prison

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 18:57


A judge sentenced "That '70s Show" star Danny Masterson to 30 years to life in prison Thursday for the rapes of two women two decades ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down the sentence to the 47-year-old Masterson after hearing statements from the women about the trauma they experienced and the suffering caused by the disturbing memories in the years since.

The actor, who has been in custody since May, sat in court wearing a suit. Masterson watched the women without visible reaction as they spoke.

"When you raped me, you stole from me," said one woman whom Masterson was convicted of raping in 2003. "That's what rape is, a theft of the spirit."

"You are pathetic, disturbed and completely violent," she said. "The world is better off with you in prison."

The other woman Masterson was found guilty of raping said he "has not shown an ounce of remorse for the pain he caused." She told the judge, "I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with. I am so sorry, and I'm so upset. I wish I'd reported him sooner to the police."

After an initial jury failed to reach verdicts on three counts of rape in December and a mistrial was declared, prosecutors retried Masterson on all three counts earlier this year.

This time, a jury of seven women and five men found Masterson guilty of two counts on May 31 after seven days of deliberations. Both attacks took place in Masterson's Hollywood-area home in 2003, when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox network sitcom "That '70s Show."

They could not reach a verdict on the third count, an allegation that Masterson also raped a longtime girlfriend. They had voted 8-4 in favor of conviction.

The judge sentenced the actor after rejecting a defense motion for a new trial that was argued earlier Thursday. The defense sought to have sentences for the two convictions run simultaneously, and asked for a sentence of 15 years to life. The prosecution asked for the full 30 years to life sentence Masterson was eligible for.

"It's his life that will be impacted by what you decide today," Masterson's lawyer Shawn Holley told the judge before the sentencing. "And the life of his 9-year-old daughter, who means the world to him, and to whom he means the world."

"He has lived an exemplary life, he has been an extraordinary father, husband, brother, son, co-worker and community servant," Holley said.

SEE MORE: Actor Danny Masterson found guilty on 2 of 3 rape counts

Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence in the Church of Scientology — where all three women were also members at the time — to avoid consequences for decades after the attacks.

The women blamed the church for their hesitancy in going to police about Masterson. They testified that when they reported him to Scientology officials, they were told they were not raped, were put through ethics programs themselves, and were warned against going to law enforcement to report a member of such high standing.

The church said in a statement after the verdict that the "testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs" during the trial were "uniformly false."

"The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone — Scientologists or not — to law enforcement," the statement said.

Masterson did not testify, and his lawyers called no witnesses. The defense argued that the acts were consensual, and attempted to discredit the women's stories by highlighting changes and inconsistencies over time, which they said showed signs of coordination between them.

The women whose testimony led to Masterson's conviction said that in 2003, he gave them drinks and that they then became woozy or passed out before he violently raped them.

Olmedo allowed prosecutors and accusers to say directly in the second trial that Masterson drugged the women, while only allowing the women to describe their condition in the first.

Masterson was not charged with any counts of drugging, and there was no toxicology evidence to back up the assertion. The issue could be a factor in a planned appeal from the defense of Masterson's conviction.

Scripps News does not typically name people who say they've been sexually abused.

Masterson starred with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace in "That '70s Show" from 1998 until 2006.

He had reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy "The Ranch," but was written off the show when a Los Angeles Police Department investigation was revealed the following year.

While that investigation began before a wave of women shook Hollywood with stories about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the conviction and sentencing of Masterson still represents a major #MeToo era success for Los Angeles prosecutors, along with the conviction of Weinstein himself last year.

Texas activists seek 'trafficking' laws to halt abortion travel

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 18:46


Anti-abortion activists are exploring "abortion trafficking" as a means to create laws that would make it illegal to transport someone on specific roads to get an abortion.

Proposed new laws that would prohibit driving through the city or county for the sole purpose of obtaining an abortion are currently under consideration in some towns in central Texas.

Llano, a town in Texas Hill Country with over 3,300 residents, discussed such a measure in late August, as the Washington Post first reported. They aimed to stop individuals traveling from Austin and Round Rock from using their highways to reach states where abortion services are available, such as New Mexico.

"This really is building a wall to stop abortion trafficking," Right to Life East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist behind the effort, told the Post. Accusing those who travel out of Texas to obtain abortions as traffickers because "the unborn child is always taken against their will."

During a town hall, Dickson told Llano residents that a "baby murdering cartel" was targeting pregnant women in Central Texas and taking them "by trains, planes and automobiles," the Washington Post reported. "I say we end abortion trafficking in the state of Texas," said Dickson.

SEE MORE: State of abortion laws: A year after Roe v. Wade overturned

Four out of the five members of the Llano City Council voted to postpone the ordinance to a later date.

Dickson informed Scripps News that a 71 political subdivisions across the U.S. have passed "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn" initiative ordinances, 52 of which are in Texas.

Dickson, along with attorney Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general responsible for authoring the "heartbeat" bill that played a key role in the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Dickson noted that the ordinances that specifically prohibit "abortion trafficking" have passed in the cities of Odessa, Little River-Academy, as well as Mitchell and Goliad Counties.

Weeks before the Llano vote, Chandler, with a population of about 3,400 people, delayed passing a similar ordinance due to worries about legal consequences for the town and potential conflicts with Texas laws. 

Mason and Lubbock are among the counties expected to consider similar measures, according to the Washington Post. 

Performing an abortion is now a first-degree felony in the state following the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade last year. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and people can sue providers or anyone assisting patients seeking an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the accurate amount of cities and counties that have passed the "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn" ordinance and clarifies which jurisdiction have specifically prohibited "abortion trafficking"

COVID is surging. What is the latest CDC quarantine, mask guidance?

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 18:14


The COVID-19 public health emergency may officially be over, but the virus has not gone away. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 17,000 people were hospitalized with the virus in the last week, a 15% increase from the week before.

While the numbers may be concerning for many, they are still far below what hospitals were seeing during the height of the pandemic. The virus peaked in January 2022, when there were more than 150,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per week.

Severe outcomes from COVID, especially among the most vulnerable, still happen. More than 300 people died from the virus in the last week of August, according to the CDC. 

Medical professionals acknowledge, however, that the U.S. is more prepared to deal with the virus now. In fact, a study released by the CDC at the beginning of 2023 shows an estimated 96% of people in the country have antibodies protecting them from the virus, either from vaccination or previous infection. 

For added protection, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC are expected to sign off on an updated booster by the end of next week. 

What is the latest CDC quarantine guidance?

Guidance related to isolating and mask wearing has changed over the past three years as medical professionals learned more about the virus. 

The CDC currently recommends that people who test positive for the virus stay home for five days and isolate from others within their house. Those who can't isolate from others within their home are encouraged to wear a high-quality mask, such as an N-95. 

The CDC says people can feel safe coming out of isolation after five days if they no longer have symptoms. For those with lingering symptoms after five days, they can come out of isolation once they are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication), the CDC says. 

Those who are experiencing shortness of breath or having difficulty breathing should be in isolation for 10 days. 

When should you wear a mask?

At times during the pandemic, people were required to wear masks regardless of whether they had COVID-19. 

That's no longer the case. The CDC has issued recommendations for certain groups, but they are not mandates. 

The agency says people with the virus should wear a mask for 10 days from when they took their COVID-19 test. 

People who are at risk of severe illness may also want to consider wearing a mask when hospitalizations from COVID-19 are medium or high. 

The CDC has a dashboard on its website that allows people to check COVID-19 hospitalization levels in their area. 

The agency notes that people may choose to wear a mask at any time if they feel more comfortable. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that the pandemic is over. However, while the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended, the World Health Organization says the pandemic is ongoing and remains a global threat. 

More kids are reporting being bullied at school, survey finds

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 17:57


More kids are reporting being bullied.

According to a survey by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 40% of kids said they were bullied on school property in the last year. Of those, 38% didn’t tell an adult.

This number has been increasing over the past three years. In 2022, 37% of kids said they were bullied, while in 2020 the number was 25%.

The survey showcases findings from 130,000 kids and teens ages 9 to 18.

About 1 in 5, or 18%, of the kids surveyed said they have experienced cyberbullying in the past year.

SEE MORE: FBI releases online game to teach kids internet safety skills

“A lot of the bullying that I’ve seen has taken place through cyberbullying first before it turns into bullying," said Diana Virgil, a professional school counselor in Alabama and part of the American School Counselor Association. "What I mean by that is, it might start on social media first, but then it ends up being a face-to-face interaction in person, based on the cyberbullying portion of it.” 

So how can parents and educators help?

“Make sure students understand what is bullying, what is being rude, and what is cyberbullying,” Virgil said.

Resource website recommends school staff get training on bullying prevention.

If your child gets bullied, they suggest the child walks away and stays away. Don’t fight back, and find an adult.

Also encourage kids to talk to adults they trust about the incident, and stay away from places or areas where bullying might happen more frequently.

“It’s always important, especially for educators and parents, to make sure we get the whole story before reacting,” Virgil said. She said following a bullying incident, it's important to understand and help not only the victim but any witnesses and bystanders through a traumatic incident.

Fentanyl, methamphetamine smoke lingers on buses, trains, study finds

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 17:14


Researchers from the University of Washington unveiled their findings after transit workers in the Pacific Northwest complained earlier this year that they were being exposed to second-hand fentanyl and methamphetamine smoke. 

Researchers from the university's Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department revealed their findings Thursday showing that the overwhelming majority of air and surface samples had detectable traces of methamphetamine. 

The researchers collected samples on 11 buses and 19 train cars on 28 nights from March 27 through June 22. With the help of transit authorities, the researchers took 78 air samples and 102 surface samples at times when smoking of these substances was considered high. 

The study found that 25% of air samples and 46% of surface samples were positive for detectable levels of fentanyl. The researchers also found that 100% of the air samples tested positive for methamphetamine, and 98% of surface samples returned traces of the drug.

SEE MORE: Overdose deaths caused by counterfeit pills growing in the US

In a call with reporters, researchers stressed that by and large, the levels detected were not high enough to prompt concern about significant near-term health effects. 

"Just because we can measure it in the lab does not necessarily mean that it's at a level that poses a health risk to operators or riders. Labs can measure very small amounts of things," lead researcher Marissa Baker said. "I will also acknowledge that short and long-term health effects of secondhand exposure to these drugs are not well established. This is really a novel exposure in this context."

Baker said for the average rider, their concern should be minimal. 

"I continue to feel safe on buses and trains, but as I mentioned, there are differences for operators than riders who will be on the train for much shorter periods of time," she said.

But that doesn't mean that drivers, or the public for that matter, remain comfortable on buses or trains where illicit drugs are being smoked. 

"That doesn't mean that smelling smoke doesn't have effects, you know, we've all been exposed to smoke of all sorts of varieties and gotten a headache or a cough or mucous membrane irritation and things like that," said Dr. Robert Hendrickson, medical director of the Oregon Poison Center. "So I don't want to downplay that in any way. The ideal situation for everyone is that no one is exposed to secondhand smoke at all. But from the standpoint of fentanyl toxicity or methamphetamine toxicity, I feel very comfortable that that is not a risk based on the numbers in this study."

SEE MORE: Over-the-counter sales of Narcan to begin this week

Researchers recommended that mass transit operators enact more frequent deep cleanings of trains and buses. They also recommend training operators on protocols, real versus perceived risks and Narcan. 

King County Metro, one of the transit authorities that first brought up concerns about drug use on mass transit, responded to Thursday's findings. 

"We place a high value on being responsive to employee and rider concerns, and in making decisions based on science," said King County Metro General Manager Michelle Allison. "The study reaffirms our strategies are the right ones, and adds to Metro’s determination to continuously improve."

The transit authority said it will conduct deep cleaning of buses every 10-14 days and do daily wipe-downs of high-touch areas. It also plans on outfitting all buses with MERV-13 filters, which they say are capable of removing viruses and drug smoke particulates. They also are budgeted to hire more security officers.

Remote workers more likely to say they want to relocate

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 16:51


It's not just driving expenses remote workers are saving on. It turns out, those who work from home are seeking cheaper places to live. 

According to a new report from Fannie Mae, "Affordability has become significantly more important as a consideration when looking to move to a new home." In 2014, 20% of the population said affordability was a top consideration in looking for a new home. By this year, 36% now say affordability is a top consideration. 

Those who work on-site are slightly more likely to emphasize affordability, while those who work in remote or in hybrid situations are slightly more likely to emphasize neighborhood in choosing a new place to live.

With remote work more or less stabilizing in recent years, it seems more workers are reconsidering where they live compared to early in the pandemic. In 2021, about 14% of remote and hybrid workers are willing to relocate to either a new metro area or somewhere at least 20 minutes away. This year, 22% of remote and hybrid workers now say they're willing to relocate. 

SEE MORE: Most homebuyers consider climate risks when buying, survey finds

About 66% of those who work fully or partially from home do not expect to relocate this year, the Fannie Mae survey found. 

When asked if they would prefer to move or stay in their current home, remote and hybrid workers were more apt to say they wanted to move. The survey found that 44% of these workers would prefer to move in the next five years, compared to 39% of those who work on-site. 

What's also noteworthy is the share of people who work remotely largely has not changed in the last two years. Fannie Mae's survey noted that 14% of workers this year expect to work fully remote, compared to 13% in 2021. The percentage of workers expecting to work both in the office and at home declined slightly, from 23% in 2021 to 21% in 2023. 

Overdose deaths caused by counterfeit pills growing in the US

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 16:35


The percentage of overdose deaths associated with counterfeit prescription drugs in the United States more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, and in some states it has more than tripled.

Overdose deaths connected to fake pills was 2% of all overdose deaths in 2019 and jumped to nearly 5% in 2021. In some areas out West, like Arizona, Alaska, Colorado and Nevada, it got even worse, going from 4.7% to almost 15%, according to recently released data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says that people who had fake pills in their system when they died were usually younger (57.1% were under 35), more often Hispanic or Latinx (18.7%), and more likely to have a history of misusing prescription drugs (27.0%) when compared to those who died of overdose without traces of fake pills in their systems.

In 41.4% of cases where fake drugs were found, the only substance responsible for the deaths was fentanyl, the CDC states. 

SEE MORE: Over-the-counter sales of Narcan to begin this week

The CDC's report comes after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public safety warning regarding counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl.

"More than half of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills being trafficked in communities across the country now contain a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl. This marks a dramatic increase – from four out of ten to six out of ten – in the number of pills that can kill," said Administrator Anne Milgram in a press release. "These pills are being mass-produced by the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel in Mexico. Never take a pill that wasn’t prescribed directly to you. Never take a pill from a friend. Never take a pill bought on social media. Just one pill is dangerous and one pill can kill."

According to the DEA, the pills are designed to closely resemble genuine prescription medications such as OxyContin, Percocet and Xanax.

The CDC estimates that over 105,000 people died in the U.S. due to overdoses in 2022.

In 2022, the DEA says that it seized more than 58.4 million fake pills laced with fentanyl and more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder.

Fentanyl is an extremely addictive man-made opioid that's 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine.

What is peptic ulcer disease? It's sidelining Bruce Springsteen

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 16:03


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have canceled all of their September tour dates as the rocker is treated for symptoms related to peptic ulcer disease. 

"Thank you for your understanding and support. We've been having a blast at our U.S. shows and we're looking forward to more great times," Springsteen said in a statement on X. "We'll be back soon."

Springsteen had eight tour dates remaining in September in cities along the East Coast, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. 

What is peptic ulcer disease?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says peptic ulcer disease affects about 6 million Americans every year. 

A person with peptic ulcer disease experiences open sores on the lining of the stomach or small intestine. The sores are reportedly caused by an overproduction of gastric acid.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, pain radiating to the back, and pain brought on by eating.

There are various treatments for peptic ulcers, including medications such as antacids to neutralize gastric acid.

In more severe cases, such as bleeding or perforation, surgery may be required. However, according to the the Mayo Clinic, surgery for peptic ulcers is much less common now due to the effectiveness of newer medications. 

Police 'mini-precinct' will be included in rebuilt Atlanta Walmart

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 15:39


Officials in Atlanta say they plan to reopen a Walmart that closed earlier this year after being destroyed by arson. 

The Vine City location will reopen next spring and will include a mini-precinct that will serve as a "police landing space," according to Atlanta City Council Member Byron Amos. The location includes a space for officers in the neighborhood to file reports and rest. 

The Walmart fire was one of two arsons involving major retailers in Atlanta. A Target store in the area was also subjected to an arson in January.

Investigators say they believe the suspects intentionally started the fires to create a distraction to allow them to shoplift items as customers fled from the fire. 

SEE MORE: Dick's Sporting Goods blames theft for plummeting profits

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said more needs to be done at some stores to protect customers and the business from crime.

"Shrink is comprised of more than one thing," he said. "That's a part of it. And we do think that in some jurisdictions here in the US, there needs to be action taken to help protect people from crime, including theft. The other part of shrink is more controllable, and we stay focused on that as a priority." 

Recently, companies have cited crime and theft for causing a drop in profits. For instance, Dick's Sporting Goods recently reported an astounding 23% drop in net income in the second quarter of 2023 compared to 2022. The company cited thefts as a primary culprit. 

"Two key factors impacted our second quarter gross margin relative to our original expectations," said Lauren Hobart, Dick's Sporting Goods CEO. "The first was the impact of higher inventory shrink, organized retail crime and theft in general, an increasingly serious issue impacting many retailers. Based on the results from our most recent physical inventory cycle, the impact of theft on our shrink was meaningful to both our Q2 results and our go-forward expectations for the balance of the year. We are doing everything we can to address the problem and keep our stores, teammates, and athletes safe."

Target also noted these safety issues at stores. 

"Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction," Target CEO Brian Cornell told investors last month. "During the first five months of this year, our store saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence. As a result, we're continuing to work tirelessly with retail industry groups and community partners to find solutions to promote safety for our store teams and our guests."

GOP senators want to end plan to lower student loan payments

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 14:25


Seventeen Republican senators introduced a resolution intending to overturn a Biden administration policy that allows federal student loan borrowers to take advantage of new income-driven repayment plans. 

While the resolution likely won't get movement due to a Democratic majority in the Senate, it shows that the issue of student debt is not going away anytime soon. Some of the Senate Republicans say taxpayers should not take on the burden of growing college debt. 

According to federal data, the Department of Education has provided assistance for over 43 million borrowers. Some of the assistance varies, ranging from the government paying the interest on loans while a student is in college all the way up to full grants.

As of earlier this week, 4 million borrowers have applied for the SAVE Plan, which could save many borrowers about $2,000 a year in payments. The Republicans cited a University of Pennsylvania analysis that claims the plan would cost taxpayers about $559 million over the next 10 years. 

SEE MORE: 'It's a huge relief': Educators react to student loan forgiveness

“Once again, Biden’s newest student loan scheme only shifts the burden from those who chose to take out loans to those who decided not to go to college, paid their way, or already responsibly paid off their loans,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. “Our resolution protects the 87 percent of Americans who don’t have student debt and will be forced to shoulder the burden of the President’s irresponsible and unfair policy.” 

The White House has touted the new plans as a response to its failed attempt to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt among low and middle-income borrowers. 

Previously, borrowers using income-driven repayment plans on undergraduate loans were expected to pay 10% of their discretionary income. Discretionary income was previously considered any dollar made above 150% of the poverty level.

Now, borrowers with only undergraduate loans will be expected to pay 5% of their discretionary income. The amount considered discretionary income increased to 225% of the federal poverty level.

Previously, a borrower with undergraduate loans with a family of four with an income of $70,000 living in the continental U.S. would have been expected to pay about $2,500 a year — or $208 a month — in payments. Under the revised plan, that person would pay about $125 a year — or just over $10 per month — in student loan payments.

Couple found after being kidnapped at gunpoint in front of their kids

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 13:39


A couple that was reportedly abducted from their San Antonio home in front of their children has been found safe.

According to multiple reports, on Wednesday, a man and woman, both in their late 30s, were "forcefully" taken by two armed men who broke into their home, leaving their five children behind.

But on Thursday, sources confirmed to WOAI that the couple had been found safe on the west side of town.

"The suspects kicked down the door, entered the home and took the two adults and then fled the scene," San Antonio public information officer Ricardo Guzman told KSAT.

Police responded to the call at 6 a.m. on Wednesday and informed KENS that the suspects placed the couple in a white SUV before fleeing the scene.

The victims' names have not been disclosed, but the investigation is underway. No information on why the couple was abducted has been released.

Scripps News has reached out to San Antonio Police Department for more information but has yet to hear back.

UAW strike against major automakers looking more likely

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 13:15


As the White House expresses optimism a deal can be reached, an expert told Scripps News he is not as hopeful a strike can be avoided between the United Auto Workers union and three major automakers. 

Last month, union members overwhelmingly authorized a strike against America's "Big Three" automakers, which could cause assembly lines to shut down next week. UAW President Shawn Fain said autoworkers are set to strike as soon as Sept. 14. 

UAW's list of demands includes more paid time off, a 32-hour workweek, a double-digit pay increase, and an end to wage tiers. Fain said if those needs aren't met by Sept. 14, then "we gotta do what we gotta do."

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University who has studied labor issues, says there is a remote chance the two sides can come to an agreement, adding "it's going to be difficult for the parties" to settle their differences.

"Over the past 40 years, the top 1% have seen their real wages adjusted for inflation grow by over 200%," Masters said. "The bottom 90% have seen their real wages grow by only 28%. That's the reason why they have this push for higher wages. And I think it resonates across the board."

SEE MORE: UAW votes to authorize a strike against major automakers

The Biden administration is projecting a more optimistic tone. A strike could have major implications for the economy. According to a recent analysis by Anderson Economic Group, a potential UAW strike could cost the "Big Three" more than $5 billion in just 10 days. 

"They're bargaining; that's what we want to see," acting Labor Secretary Julie Su told Scripps News on Wednesday. "We continue to urge that we'd like to see them arrive at a fair contract. And I say this all the time, but the only people who can say whether their contract is fair are the workers themselves. And so we really encourage continued, not just sitting at the table, but really a movement to try to arrive at a contract, but they're still in conversations."

Su added, "We're going to stay hopeful about a positive outcome there and a win-win solution."

UAW says it's ready for the picket lines. The union reportedly has $825 million in its strike fund and has raised strike pay to $500 per week.

Tom Brady is flying high with a new gig as Delta's strategic adviser

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 12:52


Just when America thought it was over, Tom Brady is working again. This time, he's flying high!

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, is coming out of retirement with a new venture and joining the Delta Airlines team as a new strategic adviser.

Delta says Brady will take part in marketing campaigns and will appear in employee training exercises and teamwork tools for over 90,000 of the airline’s employees.

"Bringing a leader like Tom onto the Delta team furthers our mission to connect the world while accelerating our drive to continuously improve for our colleagues, customers and communities," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a press release on the deal.

SEE MORE: Tom Brady reaches agreement to buy minority stake in Las Vegas Raiders

Delta chose not to disclose the amount paid to Brady or provide details about the agreement's terms, but Brady said he’s grateful for the opportunity and that it brings back memories of when his mother worked as a flight attendant.

"I am grateful to be joining the Delta family, a company I have loved and respected for years," Brady said in a statement. "Growing up with a mother as a flight attendant, I have always admired the people that make seamless air transportation possible. Throughout my career, my teammates and I flew Delta countless times, spending hours traveling for some of the most important games of our lives, even celebrating Super Bowl wins on the plane."

Brady, 46, retired after the 2022 NFL season and signed a 10-year deal with Fox Sports as the lead NFL analyst. He is also a minority owner of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, runs apparel and wellness brands, and is featured in Hertz rental car ads.